Monday, 29 October 2012

Saving Bletchley Park by Doctor Sue Black

Recently, I've been reading about Bletchley Park and the role that it played during World War II, especially in terms of the team of  cryptanalysis ( including crossword puzzle solvers, mathematicians, academics and other gurus ) who conceived of, designed and realised the solutions to the encryption problems of the time, including the Enigma and Lorenz cyphers.

Bletchley was home to the leading lights of the day, including Alan TuringJohn Tiltman, Bill Tutte and Tommy Flowers. They were the geeks of their day, long before the word "geek" was coined.

I'd heard of, but not looked into, an upcoming book ( more later ) by Doctor Sue Black

This is a story about saving Bletchley Park, one of the UK's most important sites of historical significance. It begins with Alan Turing and the team of codebreakers who worked there during World War II, and it ends with plans to transform it into the world class heritage and education centre it deserves to be. In between is the story of the hundreds of people who have dedicated years of hard work and determination to save it.

This is also a story about technology, and how it can be employed to extraordinary effect. Bletchley Park was the birthplace of the modern computer – 70 years later, this technology enabled a social media campaign that helped to secure Bletchley Park's long term future. That same technology will also help to fund this book – a fitting testament to the achievements of this remarkable team of computing pioneers.

In this book, you'll learn about some of the mysterious work that took place at Bletchley Park, and the significance this had to the outcome of World War II. You'll also find out about Alan Turing – technology pioneer, mathematical genius and one of the most remarkable Britons who ever lived. It's also the story of the thousands of women who worked at Bletchley Park – an inspiration for the growing number of women working in the field of computing and technology.

But what this book is mostly about is the 20 years of campaigning to save Bletchley Park by hundreds of extraordinary people, and how casually it seems that some of our most significant historical sites can be swept away to make room for housing estates or supermarkets. It's a book about campaigners, veterans, enthusiasts and computer geeks, as well as Twitter, trees, and Stephen Fry stuck in a lift.

On more than one occasion Bletchley Park has been in the shadow of bulldozers, but it still stands as a testament to those who worked there during World War II, and those who have tirelessly campaigned to save it. During the many years that Bletchley Park's future has hung in the balance, the campaign has been kept alive by the unerring belief that something so significant to our wartime victory in 1945 should be preserved for future generations.

The journey has been over 70 years in the making, and it makes for a really quite extraordinary story. In this book, I'm going to attempt to tell it.

Interestingly, the book will only come into existence if enough people choose to ( in the words of Captain Jean-Luc Picard ) make it so.

Want to know more ? Want to get involved ?

If you're interested in a (fictional) account of life at Bletchley Park, you may also like Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson.

Furthermore, if you are interested in seeing Alan Turing on the next £10.00 note, click here.

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